In a slate of Kane County Board races, it turns out that the coroner's race is, ironically, the most lively.
The Kane County Conservative Coalition—the same group that has pushed hard for Chris Lauzen's campaign for County Board chairman—is backing Democrat Tao Martinez in the coroner's race over Republican Robert Russell.
A press release issued Thursday by Jon Zahm said the KCCC is endorsing a Democrat for the first time since 2002, when the group favored Pat Perez for sheriff. In the same e-mail, Zahm does disclose that his wife works as a paid political consultant for Martinez.
"Most of our endorsements are of people we have been supporting for months, even years in some cases," Zahm said in the press release. "However, in one of the 20 contests we are formally endorsing in, we found that the Democratic candidate best reflected 'conservative fiscal and social values while conducting themselves ethically and responsibly,' which is the official description of the mission statement of the organization."
Russell told the Kane County Chronicle that Zahm's press release was an "obviously political hit piece coming right before the election." Russell said his record stands for itself.
The press release, as well as a Facebook post by Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, a Democrat, questions Russell's credentials as an investigator.
"Russell has created this fantasy that he is a lead homicide investigator,' " Zahm said. "What does he base this claim upon? He received a certificate in the mail just a couple of weeks ago for a class he completed in September."
In an e-mail sent Sunday night, Martinez quotes a Perez Facebook post.
"Now Mr. Russell embellishes his law enforcement experience and talks about doing death investigations," the post says. It explains that in the course of homicide investigations or other fatals, the investigations are done by police or sheriff's department personnel. The coroner's job is to determine the manner of death.
"Anyone following this race should question why Mr. Russell is so obsessed with thinking he has the same arrest powers as the sheriff, and would take the sheriff's place if the sheriff were to leave office," it says.
Zahm said the Conservative Coalition backs Martinez because he has more apples-to-apples coroner experience.
"He operates a business that works side by side with coroners in five states, including Illinois, professionally handling death scenes and working with families in the hours and days after tragic deaths as they look for answers and expect compassion," the press release says.
Disclosure from Zahm
"My wife decided, independently, to work as a paid consultant to Tao Martinez several weeks ago. I did not intend to take a public side in this race, I am already involved in many other campaigns. But as information came out about Russell refusing to release his disciplinary records at the DuPage Sheriff's Office, and revelations about his exaggerated role in death investigations, I felt it necessary to take a principled stand. Many members and supporters of the KCCC also reached out to me and said it was important to look past political parties and focus on character and credentials, especially for an office like coroner. So that is how we got to this point."
Kane County Conservative Coalition 2012 General Election Endorsements
- President: MITT ROMNEY
- Congressman 6th District: PETER ROSKAM
- Congressman 8th District: JOE WALSH
- Congressman 14th District: RANDY HULTGREN
- Kane County Board Chairman: CHRIS LAUZEN
- Kane County Circuit Clerk: TOM HARTWELL
- Kane County Recorder: SANDY WEGMAN
- Kane County Coroner: TAO MARTINEZ
- Kane County Board District 2: SAL ABBATE
- Kane County Board District 5: MELISA TAYLOR
- Kane County Board District 9: T.R. SMITH
- Kane County Board District 10: SUSAN STARRETT
- Kane County Board District 18: DREW FRASZ
- Kane County Board District 19: KURT KOJZAREK
- Kane County Board District 22: DOUG SCHEFLOW
- State Senate District 25: JIM OBERWEIS
- State Senate District 26: DAN DUFFY
- State Senate District 42: PETER HURTADO
- State Representative District 52: DAVID McSWEENEY
- 16th Circuit Judge Sub Circuit 2: JOHN WALTERS
SOURCES: Kane County Conservative Coalition, Kane County Chronicle, Tao Martinez press release